The class of 2015 is the largest among other freshmen classes of recent years, forcing the administration to add three classes to accommodate the additional students, along with two classes to take the load off of sophomores.
According to the headcount done on Aug. 31, there are 701 freshmen enrolled at the school, 31 more than the already larger class projected at 670, according to assistant principal of student support services Michael Yi. This year, a total of approximately 2,630 students are presently enrolled; along with the class of ’15, there are 663 sophomores, 621 juniors and 645 seniors. “This is good for the school,” principal Andrew Ishibashi said. “More students means that the school receives more money.”
The master schedule required adjustments adding two Physical Education 1 and one Spanish 1 class, predominately aimed for freshmen students. Additionally, one PE 3 classes was added for the 10th graders while one College and Career mixed grade 10th-12th class was created to lower the elective’s class size.
The additional classes were formed on Aug. 18, three days after the first day of school, according to Yi. “We formed the new classes after the first three days because the school is not allowed to drop any incoming freshmen students out of school unless they don’t show up for three consecutive days after the first day of school,” Yi said. “After, we can begin forming classes for the extra students.”
According to Yi, the Spanish 1 class was added not only to alleviate elective class size, but also as sign-ups for Spanish 1 classes were more popular this year because the enrollment of Latino students increased. Four years ago, Latino students made up approximately 7 percent of the incoming group. This year, 11.2 percent of the incoming freshmen are Latino.
Since more classes were added, many students experienced schedule changes and teachers were switched around. “I used to have Ms. Taylor-Ray as my gym teacher for Mods 1-2 but they switched my teacher to Mr. Prutz during the same mods,” freshman Eli Bennett said. “It was not a big adjustment and both teachers seemed really good, but I didn’t understand why the school switched teachers.”
The increase in the number of freshmen was not a plan by the district to distribute the same amount of students in each of the high schools, according to Ishibashi. The increase was due to a higher percentage of families accepting their Lowell admittance notifications. There were no changes in the entrance exam or the acceptance policy, and the same number of students were admitted this year as in previous years according to Ishibashi. “I think more students accepted to enter Lowell this year, because in this bad economy, it is possible that many families cannot afford to pay the high tuition of private schools,” he said.
Some feel that the great numbers of students affects the Lowell community as a whole. “Everyone is affected by this, one way or the other,” French and Chinese teacher Nahleen Pang said. “Because the class is more crowded, it is more difficult for the students to learn. It is harder for teachers to pinpoint many of the students’ problems. It’s important for students to build a good foundation and progress in unison when they are learning. Otherwise, the students who are having comprehension problems will be left further and further behind with the progression of each lesson.”
Many teachers noticed the increased number of students in their classes. “I have around 35 students in each of my classes, which is two to three students more than last year,” math teacher Hans Evans said. “I am affected by the increase of students in that my classroom is a little louder this year and it takes longer to grade papers.”
Students also noticed that the hallways have become more difficult to pass through. “I feel that this year’s hallways are more crowded than last year’s,” sophomore Xiaofan Wu said. “I feel like I need to rush to class or otherwise, I would be late.”
Next spring, the Lowell admissions committee will decide whether or not to adjust next year’s freshmen class size in response to the increase, according to Ishibashi.
A version of this article first appeared in the Sept. 9, 2011 print edition of The Lowell.